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Surge protectors - who is responsible?
weirdbeard
161 Posts
Question
If a contractor installs a “fully loaded” domestic consumer unit with surge protection, are they liable for subsequent damage that may occur to electrical appliances within the installation?

Thanks
10 Replies
Chris Pearson
1531 Posts
It's all in the contract!

Provided that the CU is CE marked, BS certified, and from a reputable source, I find it difficult to see how the electrician could be held liable in the event that the SPD failed to provide the expected level of protection.
AJJewsbury
1677 Posts
SPDs only provide protection within certain limits anyway - too close a lightning strike or surges generated within the installation and damage may still occur even if there was nothing wrong with the SPD.

I agree it would be hard to prove anything - I doubt anyone would really know where the source of the particular surge that caused the damage was, or whether the SPD as already expired before the event (user error for not checking the indicator on the SPD). Probably no worse for an electrician than if an RCD failed to protect from shock.

   - Andy.
weirdbeard
161 Posts
Chris Pearson:
It's all in the contract!

Provided that the CU is CE marked, BS certified, and from a reputable source, I find it difficult to see how the electrician could be held liable in the event that the SPD failed to provide the expected level of protection

Thanks for the reply Chris, though i am unsure what contract you refer to? 

weirdbeard
161 Posts
AJJewsbury:
SPDs only provide protection within certain limits anyway - too close a lightning strike or surges generated within the installation and damage may still occur even if there was nothing wrong with the SPD.

I agree it would be hard to prove anything - I doubt anyone would really know where the source of the particular surge that caused the damage was, or whether the SPD as already expired before the event (user error for not checking the indicator on the SPD). Probably no worse for an electrician than if an RCD failed to protect from shock.

   - Andy.

Thanks for the reply Andy, can you provide a link to where a faulty RCD has actually failed to protect from shock? Thanks.

AJJewsbury
1677 Posts
Thanks for the reply Andy, can you provide a link to where a faulty RCD has actually failed to protect from shock?
I can't think of a publicised incident off the top of my head, but given that mots of us have found faulty RCDs at some point or other, it must be a finite risk.
   - Andy.
weirdbeard
161 Posts
AJJewsbury:
Thanks for the reply Andy, can you provide a link to where a faulty RCD has actually failed to protect from shock?
I can't think of a publicised incident off the top of my head, but given that mots of us have found faulty RCDs at some point or other, it must be a finite risk.
   - Andy.

Thanks for the reply Andy 🧟‍♂️

Chris Pearson
1531 Posts
weirdbeard:
Chris Pearson:
It's all in the contract!

Provided that the CU is CE marked, BS certified, and from a reputable source, I find it difficult to see how the electrician could be held liable in the event that the SPD failed to provide the expected level of protection

Thanks for the reply Chris, though i am unsure what contract you refer to? 

The one between the sparks and the customer. Be aware that consumer protection legislation slips all sorts of terms into a contract between a business and a consumer such as goods have to be fit for purpose, as described, etc.

lyledunn
329 Posts
Aside from the terms specified in a particular contract, it would be reasonable to expect that any new electrical installation would be fully compliant with 7671. The contractor, if subsequently challenged on the constructional aspects of his installation, can then point to a nationally accepted code to demonstrate that he had done all that was reasonable to mitigate the risks attendant in the use of his installation. It will be very interesting to see if some of the many contractors who seem to think that SPDs are a dispensable item are eventually called to account. 
As far as 7671 is concerned, SPDs are a clear requirement in many instances and thus their absence or their incorrect installation is not defendable. It also remains to be seen whether those responsible for the design of electrical installations will be able to mount a robust defence when they fail to take due regard of the recommendation in our national standard to provide AFDDs. 
mapj1
2170 Posts
Unreasonable I think to expect a small box by the consumer unit to absorb a hit that could burn a hole in a tiled roof and blow out the upstairs windows. If the lightning hit the house electrics to any extent at all, then to have an SPD may have helped some other households on the same substation. Even so, it is likely that many of those on other phases might have seen so little surge as to not have needed an SPD at all,  but at the same time  the nearest neighbours  on the same phase would probably get so much as to not be adequately covered by an SPD, and would still have had some kit damaged if they had one or not.
Induced currents in telephone wiring would also cause problems.
 

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